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May 24, 2009

Reading a book on the iPod touch — if you've got a cat, it sure beats the paper

Ertywethj

Long story (precisely 256 pages, exclusive of acknowledgments) short: It works.

What I like about it:

• Portability (obviously) — though I've only got two Kindle store books on it now, there's room for plenty more.

• Accessibility — a consequence of portability; anytime, anywhere, whenever the mood strikes, you can read your book. So far I've done so in line at the post office and supermarket, dentist's office, vet, waiting for people, etc.

• Privacy — no one knows what you're reading. All books look alike on an iPod touch, to anyone watching.

• Readability — nice, crisp font, sized for the device so as not to attempt to cram a full book page onto the screen all at once.

• Versatility — bright, backlight white screen with black type makes reading in dark or poorly lit places a non-issue.

• Speed — free Kindle reader app and Kindle store for iPhone makes downloads very fast (the book appears on your device ready to read within seconds of buying it. Of course, that's with WiFi. I can't speak about 3G.

• Affordability — $9.99 for the Kindle editions I've purchased, as with most books available; cheaper than buying the actual book from Amazon.

• Availability — feel like reading a certain book, or bored and in search of a diversion, or just heard about a book you want to perhaps read? Instantly you can get the first chapter free via the Kindle store and decide if it's worth buying the book. That, to me, is the most powerful thing about it: a 24/7/365 bookstore no matter where happen to be (with WiFi). And even without, you've still got your downloaded books anytime you want them.

Pet-ability — most evenings I read for hours on my favorite couch, with my legs elevated on a pile of cushions and pillows and a blanket on my lap. Gray Cat oftimes joins me, walking in place on my belly for a while before settling down for a nap. Reading newspapers in such circumstances is problematic at best, since the pages need to be kept clear of her highness's slumbering self and the noise from turning the pages and folding them flat must be annoying, judging from the occasional opened eye and accompanying glare.

At such times, switching to a book has been my habit, but this past week I've used the touch instead. Much, much better, for this reason: I can hold the device with one hand, sliding to the next page silently, while petting the cat as is my wont. I call this win-win. Plus, if I fall asleep, as sometimes happens, dropping the book won't startle the furry dreamer.

Oh, I almost forgot: along with your backlit mini-Kindle reader you also get a free pocket netbook that lets you do the things you do with a computer plus access a zillion great (many free) apps.

Not bad for $217.

May 24, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

NOBODY Felt Chair

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"NOBODY is produced in one single process by thermopressing the polymer fibre-PET felt mat (without any kind of frame).

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The production process neither demands any additives like glues or resins, nor any additional materials like screws or reinforcements.

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PET felt is 100% recyclable material produced mainly of used soda water bottles."

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Apply within.

May 24, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Twitpocalypse ETA: June 14, 2009 at 06:52:33 GMT

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Marcus Reimold just sent word.

We thought you should know.

May 24, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Inflatable Changing Room

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10-

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foot-

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square

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floor.

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$1,900.

May 24, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'The vague steering is totally '70s Cadillac' — Car and Driver test drives a Zamboni

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Pictured above, the first Zamboni.

The original 1949 Zamboni Model A is now parked in a far corner of the skating rink where it made its debut, just down the street from the Zamboni factory in a Los Angeles suburb.

K.C. Colwell's review of the iconic ice smoother appears in the May 2009 issue, and follows.

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Zamboni 101

You've seen one at your local ice rink, but how many of you have driven one? Ride along as we take the ice.

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Before Frank Zamboni developed the machine in 1949 that bears his name, resurfacing an ice rink took a team of men and a tractor about an hour. The early Zambonis were based on Jeeps. It wasn’t until 1964 that the Zamboni HD-series took on the enclosed shape and design that we know today.

Driving a Zamboni is not as much fun as it looks: Visibility from the elevated left-rear position is poor, the abrupt throttle tip-in takes some getting used to, and the vague steering is totally ’70s Cadillac. Despite the studded tires and all-wheel drive, the handling profile is pure oversteer.

Resurfacing the ice is done by a conditioner, the large contraption behind the rear wheels that houses a razor-sharp blade, a squeegee, and a horizontal auger that removes the shaved ice from the blade. Lowering the blade controls how much ice is cut off the surface. Then hot, ice-making water is poured onto the freshly shaved ice. New, a Zamboni starts at about $100,000.

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Here's John Branch's front page story from yesteday's New York Times on the company and its namesake.

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As Economy Stumbles, the Zamboni Glides On

At least one well-known American vehicle manufacturer is rolling out vehicles as usual. But before a Zamboni can take the ice, it hits the pavement on Colorado Avenue.

The neighbors are used to it by now, seeing one of the blocky ice-resurfacing machines rumble out of the low-slung Zamboni factory and trudge down the block — top speed: 9 miles per hour — toward the corner KFC. It whirls and comes back, is checked for leaks and fitted with studded tires.

Then the Zamboni is sent someplace like Dubai or Prague or Milwaukee. A handwritten tag on a string near the ignition tells where. Zamboni may be the most famous name on ice, a pop-culture icon more recognized than any of the four remaining National Hockey League playoff teams, with a moniker more familiar than Crosby or Ovechkin, probably even Gretzky or Lord Stanley, whose trophy goes to the N.H.L. champion.

And, in this day, it may be comforting to know that Frank J. Zamboni & Company, still family owned and operated, is not asking for a government bailout.

“Not yet,” Richard F. Zamboni, 76, the company president and son of the founder, said with an easy smile. “We go in cycles that don’t really go with the economy.”

In almost every way, Zamboni is a revered model of consistency. Its form, function and sales output — 200 to 250 of its all-in-one machines are produced each year, the company said — have barely changed in decades.

“It’s kind of weird — even people that don’t know anything about the sport know the Zamboni,” said Dave Schneider, a founding member of a hockey-themed band called the Zambonis. When the company learned of the band years ago, the musicians pleaded, “Please don’t make us change our name to the Ice-Resurfacing Machines,” Mr. Schneider said. The name stayed, and a licensing agreement was struck.

After inventing his machine, Frank J. Zamboni, the son of Italian immigrants, wanted to name his company Paramount Engineering, to give it more credibility. The name was taken.

Canadians, especially, are surprised to learn that Frank J. Zamboni & Company is not only American but based nowhere near naturally frozen water. The factory sits in the side-street sprawl of south Los Angeles, between Compton and Bellflower, amid other industrial buildings but within a block of homes and strip malls.

When Zamboni engineers want to do some on-ice testing, a machine is driven several city blocks beneath a skyline of palm trees and fast-food signs, to the Iceland skating rink, where Zamboni became Zamboni in the first place 60 years ago.

The original machine [top] sits in a far corner of the rink.

“The one from 60 years ago would still make a halfway decent sheet of ice,” Mr. Zamboni said. “Just not as good as the new ones.”

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Moving in slow ovals, the machine scrapes the rutted surface. It gathers the ice shavings and dumps them into an on-board bin using hidden augers. It spreads water with a squeegee to leave a smooth sheen on the ice.

Charlie Brown once said there are three things in life that people like to stare at: a flowing stream, a crackling fire and a Zamboni clearing the ice.

Fans at hockey games — children and the childlike, mostly — often cheer the Zamboni when it takes the ice. They applaud precision and jeer missed spots.

On the television sitcom “Cheers,” Carla’s hockey-playing husband, Eddie LeBec, died when he was run over by a Zamboni. Sarah Palin said last year that she always wanted to name a son Zamboni. Car and Driver recently test-drove one, finding that “the vague steering is totally ’70s Cadillac.”

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Mr. Zamboni’s father, with Frank’s brother and a cousin, opened the nearby skating rink in 1940. Frank Zamboni spent much of the next decade building a contraption to smooth the ice and eliminate the time it took crews to scrape, shovel and spray.

The Model A made its debut in 1949. The rest of the fleet was numbered, in order. Sonja Henie took Nos. 2 and 3 for her ice show. No. 9,056, almost complete, is headed to a rink in Monterrey, Mexico.

“It’s a small, family-owned business,” Mr. Zamboni said. “It’s got a name, but it’s sure got a small niche in a small industry when you get down to it.”

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That is the key to success, according to Ron Pinelli, president of motorintelligence.com.

“It enjoys a unique niche in the market,” he said. “Your large automakers do not. Their business model is based on consumer products on a high-volume basis.”

Zambonis are custom-made, not built until the order arrives. The lead time is usually at least six months.

Richard and Alice Zamboni have been married 56 years, and four of their five children work for the company. A fourth generation has helped, too, and the family still owns the Iceland rink.

The factory has about 30 employees and produces about 100 machines a year. A second factory, run by Richard Zamboni’s son Frank in Brantford, Ontario — Wayne Gretzky’s hometown — has similar output. Most are part of the 500 series, found in most N.H.L. arenas. Such machines cost at least $75,000 and sometimes hit six figures.

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The company is privately held and declined to disclose financial information. But 200 machines at $75,000 each would be $15 million in annual sales.

“Thirty years ago, my dad said: ‘Gee, the market’s saturated. We’re going to run out of customers,’ ” Richard Zamboni said. “I don’t know where that saturation point is that my dad was talking about. We’re not there yet.”

Most would-be competitors have come and gone. But one, the Resurfice Corporation, of Elmira, Ontario, said it produces about the same number of machines as Zamboni. The companies are, in effect, the Boeing and Airbus of ice resurfacing.

Resurfice is owned and operated by the Schlupp family, with none of the name recognition of its competitor. Don Schlupp, the company’s sales and marketing director, says he is used to hearing people call its machines Zambonis.

“We refer to it as the Kleenex syndrome,” he said.

All the off-hand familiarity makes Zamboni a bit nervous. It has trademarked its name (and the block shape of its machines) but fears the name becoming a lowercase zamboni, suffering the same fate as Aspirin, Escalator, Zipper and other brand names that lost trademark protections.

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The company also asks that Zamboni not be used as a noun (as it has been throughout this article) or a verb. The ice does not get Zambonied, then, and the vehicle is a Zamboni brand ice-resurfacing machine. Good luck with that.

May 24, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Citrus Wedger

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From the website:

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Citrus Wedger

This efficient tool makes it quick and easy to transform your favorite citrus fruits into professional-looking cocktail garnishes.

It slices with one swift motion, precisely dividing lemons, limes and other citrus fruits into neat uniform wedges.

Designed to protect the user’s fingers and made of durable plastic with razor-sharp stainless-steel blades.

The adjustable wedger accommodates fruits up to 2-3/4" in diameter, creating six wedges.

4-3/4"W x 4-1/4"L x 2 1/2"H.

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$15 (citrus fruit not included).

[via 7Gadgets]

May 24, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

StreetViewFun — Tracking Google's Street View Camera Car Around the World

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"View the best street view images at StreetViewFun.com. Updated daily with new, funny and interesting Google Maps Street View photos. Find bloopers and other funny stuff. We also cover funny images from similar services such as Mapjack, City8, iiCosmo, Earthmine and EveryScape. This is a collection of thousands of images from street view, with the best listed in a toplist."

There goes the day.

May 24, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Where's the Marconi? Limited-Edition Vacuum Tube Radio

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Designed by Jonas Damon.

Aluminum and MDF.

12.75" x 8.75" x 7".

MP3-compatible.

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$350.

May 24, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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